Mitigating People Wildlife Conflict. Human-wildlife conflict (HWC) is also fast becoming a critical threat to the survival of many globally endangered species, in particular to large and rare mammals such as the Sumatran tiger and the Asian lion,

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      How would you react to an elephant in your backyard or a bear in your garden?As human populations expand and natural habitats shrink, people and animals are increasingly coming into conflict over living space and food. From baboons in Namibia attacking young cattle, to greater one-horned rhinos in Nepal destroying crops, to orang-utans in oil palm plantations, to European bears and wolves killing livestock – the problem is universal, affects rich and poor, and is bad news for all concerned. The impacts are often huge. People lose their crops, livestock, property, and sometimes their lives. The animals, many of which are already threatened or endangered, are often killed in retaliation or to 'prevent' future conflicts. Human-wildlife conflict is a major issue in conservation. Human-wildlife conflict (HWC) is also fast becoming a critical threat to the survival of many globally endangered species, in particular to large and rare mammals such as the Sumatran tiger and the Asian lion, but also to less endangered species such as the snow leopard  and the Red colobus monkey. The numerous cases from countries all over the world demonstrate the severity of human-wildlife conflict and suggest that an in depth analysis is essential to understand the problem and support the conservation prospects of threatened and potentially endangered species.

   HWC has far reaching environmental impacts. Species most exposed to conflict are also shown to be more prone to extinction because of injury and death caused by humans;these can be either accidental, such as road traffic and railway accidents, capture in snares set for other species or from falling into farm wells, or intentional, caused by retaliatory shooting, poison or capture. Such human-induced mortality affects not only the population viability of some of the most endangered species, but also has broader environmental impacts on ecosystem equilibrium and biodiversity preservation.

   Human-wildlife conflicts also undermine human welfare, health and safety, and have economic and social costs. Nuisance encounters with small animals, exposure to zoonotic diseases, physical injury or even death caused by large predators’ attacks have high financial costs for individuals and society in the form of medical treatments to cure and prevent infections transmitted from animals through human contact. Humans can be economically affected through destruction and damage to property and infrastructure (e.g. agricultural crops, orchards, grain stores, water installation, fencing, pipes), livestock depredation, transmission of domestic animal diseases, such as foot and mouth. Negative social impacts include missed school and work, additional labour costs, loss of sleep, fear, restriction of travel or loss of pets.

   Such broad environmental, human health and safety, economic and social impacts suggest that governments, wildlife managers, scientists and local communities need to recognise the problem and adopt measures to resolve it in the interest of human and environmental well being.


A set of global trends has contributed to the escalation of HWC worldwide. There are several reasons for the Human-Wildlife Conflict. These can be grouped into human population growth, land use transformation, species habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation, growing interest in ecotourism and increasing access to nature reserves, increasing livestock populations and competitive exclusion of wild herbivores, abundance and distribution of wild prey, increasing wildlife population as a result of conservation programmes, climatic factors and stochastic events.

1. Human population growth

Demographic and social changes place more people in direct contact with wildlife: as human populations grow, settlements expand into and around protected areas, as well as in urban and sub-urban areas. In Africa, human population growth has lead to encroachment into wildlife habitats, constriction of species into marginal habitat patches and direct competition with local communities. In the state of British Colombia, Canada, conflicts are not restricted to nature reserves or rural areas but often occur in urban conglomerates as well. In the last few years, human population growth is correlated proportionally with the number of encounters and serious incidents with cougar, black bears and grizzly bears.

2. Land use transformation

This cause is very much associated with the previous one, as the transformation of forests, savannah and other ecosystems into agrarian areas or urban agglomerates is a consequence of the increasing demand for land, food production, energy and raw materials. In Kenya, in many areas with abundant wildlife, such as Samburu, Trans-Mara, Taita and Kwale, conflict is intensified by land use fragmentation and the development of small-scale farming. In fact, state and trust ranches have been subdivided and sold as smallholdings and cultivated with commercial horticultural crops. In the Indian state of Gujarat, on the periphery of Gir National Park and Sanctuary, intense and escalating conflicts with Asian lions and leopards are due to the rapid and extensive change in land use associated with the conversion of groundnut and great millet fields into sugarcane and mango cultivation. These crops create favourable habitats for predators and play a major role in influencing the natural distribution and abundance of wildlife communities.

3. Species habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation

Species habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation are also interconnected with population growth and land use change. In Sumatra, the alteration of forest areas into agriculture and grazing land has restricted the Sumatran tiger’s home range to a few patches of forest. Currently, only about 500 individuals remain on the entire island.

4. Growing interest in ecotourism and increasing access to nature reserves

Recreational activities and growing public interest in charismatic species, such as large carnivores and endangered species, have increased the human presence in protected areas and raised concern about capacities to manage and regulate public access and large-scale use of protected areas.  Also, associated with the four global trends is a fifth cluster connected to alteration of natural food and water availability.

5. Increasing livestock populations and competitive exclusion of wild herbivores

Growing densities in livestock populations can create an overlap of diets and forage competition with wild herbivores, resulting in overgrazing and decline or local extinction in wild herbivore  populations. In India, domestic animals often outnumber wild ungulates within protected areas, reaching densities of up to 1,500 per sq. km. and it has been ascertained that livestock graze in 73% of wildlife sanctuaries and 39% of protected areas. Under these circumstances, livestock becomes an important source of prey for predators.

6. Abundance and distribution of wild prey

Many authors recognize that when native prey is abundant, wild predators consume it in preference to livestock and that impoverishment of prey populations is one of the major causes of carnivores shifting their diets to livestock. Clearly, this is due to the ease of capture and limited escape abilities of livestock. In Venezuela, in Hato Piñero commercial cattle ranch, the correlation between alteration of prey availability and local livestock depredation is evident by the fact that the highest depredation rates have been recorded in areas where prey abundance and diversity are relatively low.

7. Increasing wildlife population as a result of conservation programmes

Beyond the ongoing problems of HWC, new questions have emerged. In recent years, the

successful recovery of declining or near extinct species populations through wildlife man new conflicts. Effective protection and habitat management within the Gir National Park and Sanctuary in the Indian state of Gujarat doubled the Asian lion population between 1970 and 1993. The social organisation, habitat and prey requirements of the species were difficult to accommodate within the human-defined home range, and resulted in many lions straying out of the reserve into local villages. In the ranches of North America, European settlement almost exterminated wolves. Recent recovery programmes, however have contributed to the recolonization by wolves of their original home range, including rural areas; and in the process have increased the potential for conflict, especially where domestic livestock is a major economic activity.

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8. Climatic factors

Although not often mentioned, perhaps because they cannot be controlled, climatic trends are an important cause of HWC. Seasonal changes in rainfall are directly correlated with predation intensity in Kenya. In Tsavo National Parks, quantified a positive association between monthly rainfall and attacks, demonstrating that in this region lions are more likely to attack livestock during seasonal rains. During drought periods, ungulates spend most of their time near a limited number of water sources and thus they are easily found and killed; when rain fills seasonal pools, lions disperse into their habitat, change their diets, and ...

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